Janitorial Services Companies: Guardians of the Built Environment
Here’s a quick quiz:
- What is the origin of the term janitor?
- What is the currently favored term for janitorial services companies?
- What are most healthcare housekeeping services called in 2021?
- What three things do hospital cleaning services do that most other commercial cleaners do not?
Read on to see how you scored.
First, There Were Janitors
It used to be that the terms “janitor” and “janitorial services companies” were straightforward and universal. Janitors cleaned and maintained buildings, including schools, hospitals, commercial buildings, and the host of other types of facilities that make up the built environment. Janitors were also employed by janitorial services companies, which contracted with facilities that did not have an in-house cleaning staff.
The term janitor is derived from Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and ends and, metaphorically speaking, doors and passageways. This moniker is quite appropriate since janitors are the gatekeepers to clean, healthy environments.
At some point, the term janitor fell out of favor. Many people started referring to janitors as custodians, and janitorial services companies were dubbed commercial cleaning services. The term custodians came to refer to in-house cleaners, i.e., staff hired and paid by the facility. Meanwhile, individuals working in the same capacity for independent third-party commercial cleaning services became known as building service contractors (BSCs)
But Wait, There’s More
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things globally, and this is especially true for the professional cleaning industry. The pandemic shone a spotlight on the cleaning sector. This has led to changes in the industry’s accepted terminology once again. Today, whether cleaning is performed in-house by custodians or BSCs, those doing the work are increasingly becoming known as infection-prevention specialists or cleaning technicians. This new terminology highlights the vital role of these workers on the frontline of infection prevention, day in and day out.
A Healthy Difference
Like other commercial cleaning services sectors, some healthcare cleaning departments once were called janitorial services. More often, however, they were referred to as healthcare housekeeping services or just housekeeping. Relatively recently, however, healthcare cleaning has become known as environmental services (EVS).
This change has been gaining momentum primarily because EVS workers must be trained to regularly perform duties that other commercial cleaners seldom or never perform.
One of the major challenges EVS providers face daily is the fight to reduce the number of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), which account for 1.7 million infections and 99,000 related deaths annually in the United States. The incidence of HAIs also impacts a hospital’s HCAHPS scores and CMS funding. To combat HAIs, healthcare workers must know and follow infection-prevention processes and protocols effective against specific viruses and pathogens within the healthcare setting. These include MRSA, C. diff, Ebola, E. coli, and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19)—to name but a few.
Among the duties that EVS workers must be trained to perform that most other commercial cleaners do not encounter regularly are:
- Handling and disposal of biological substances, including blood, urine, skin, and feces
- Sharps containment and disposal
- Terminal cleaning
- Patient empathy.
It is essential to keep up with the times and to refer to workers by the terms that are respectful and most accurately describe their roles. But no matter what the current title is, it is great to see that these gatekeepers to health and wellness are finally being recognized as the true guardians of clean, healthy, safe environments.
Janitorial Services Companies Near Me
Whether you are looking for janitorial services, commercial cleaning services, or an EVS provider in the California area, we have you covered. No matter what sector you are in, we are experts in infection prevention. Contact us today.
Are you interested in a career with Servicon? Visit servicon.com/careers.